More details of TOT-CAT consolidation plans

23 Aug 2006

A source at CAT Telecom yesterday divulged further details of plans to merge the international fixed line and mobile operator with its state-run sister company, local telephony and broadband provider TOT Corp. The source confirmed earlier announcements that a new company will be formed to act as a fixed, mobile and internet network provider, while CAT and TOT will act as service providers, adding that: ‘This will make it easy for us to effectively manage our vast existing and future networks… The new company will also lease the networks to telecom operators.’ As well as managing the network assets of both agencies, the new company will be tasked with managing new networks arising from future investment. TOT’s network assets include a countrywide fixed line voice and data network and broadband infrastructure, while CAT owns an international call network, including three international switches, a satellite earth station and stakes in several cable ventures. It also operates internet and data services and a CDMA mobile network, soon to be upgraded to CDMA2000 1x in all 51 provinces of the country. Its cellular joint venture, Hutchison-CAT Wireless, already operates a 1x network in 25 provinces. TOT and CAT also jointly own the GSM network of fledgling mobile operator Thai Mobile, which possesses the country’s only 3G licence, although its growth has been stunted by infighting between the pair; majority owner TOT’s plan to take full control of the cellco stalled because it could not agree terms with CAT. The plan to merge the two agencies was originally announced by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, which wants to improve their competitiveness and reduce their considerable business redundancy. Both telcos have informally agreed on a plan to operate under a new holding vehicle to be set up by the Finance Ministry, which would also oversee the proposed network provider subsidiary.

Thailand, CAT Telecom, TOT